Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 41 mins ago
Mike Babcock made no secret that leaving the Detroit Red Wings was an emotional decision. He’s spoken about needing to crack open a box of Kleenex when discussing it with friend and general manager Ken Holland, and we’ll go ahead and assume he’s not talking about his allergies (but oy vey, that ragweed these days).
So the 10-year coach of the Red Wings decided to make one last gesture of appreciation to the Detroit fans as he embarks on the new chapter of his life as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach/savior.
Babcock and his family took out an ad on Page 6B of the Detroit Free Press on Friday, featuring a photo of the Babcocks hoisting the Stanley Cup and what appars to be a photo of an Easter Island statue.
The ad reads:
"Detroit Red Wings fans,
Thank you for an amazing 10 years!
- The Babcocks"
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 16 hrs ago
The New York Rangers have given up 12 goals in the last two games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to that? They hadn’t given up more than four goals but once, in the second game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1. They had given up one goal in eight of their previous 13 playoff games. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a save percentage of .944 entering the series. It’s now down to a mortal .926.
So what happened?
Game 2 was a gong-show. Twelve power plays between the teams turned the game on its ear, and the Rangers couldn’t exactly evaluate what went wrong because if it. Those games happen, and the Lightning simply converted their chances.
Game 3 was a little more concerning. The Bolts won the 5-on-5 possession game in the first and third period. It was more fire-wagon than the Rangers have played or would like to play, which was a function of needing to rally and New York opening up its offense. Tampa Bay’s speed was starting to become a determining factor in the series.
The result? A second straight loss.
Can the Rangers get back to the defensive basics of the rest of their run to the Eastern Conference Playoffs? Are they going to slow it down for Game 4?
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 20 hrs ago
Mike Babcock brought the pain in his introduction press conference as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.
Like the pain of building a championship team from the ground up in Toronto, a process whose length and complexity are symbolized by the eight-year contract given to him by MLSE president Brendan Shanahan and the board.
“If you think there's no pain coming, there's pain coming,” said Babcock.
“The path we're taking has to be different. There’s no chance for a quick fixer here. You build a program. It’s going to take a long time. They committed to me for a long time. I committed to Toronto for a long time.”
Like the pain being felt in Buffalo, as the Sabres and their media proxies believed Babcock had agreed to a deal to coach that franchise.
Babcock denied he ever agreed to a contract with owner Terry Pegula and the Sabres, and bristled at the accusation that he flat-out lied to them, leveraging the Sabres’ offer to enrich the one coming from Toronto.
“That 'lying' word’s an interesting word for me,” he said, while admitting he and the Sabres worked on a contract framework.
"We wanted Mike to be a coach and a builder," said Shanahan.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 22 hrs ago
Mike Babcock is being introduced as the next head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs after a wild Wednesday for the Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres, the Detroit Red Wings and many, many others.
Here are the winners and losers in the Mike Babcock Derby:
WINNER: BRENDAN SHANAHAN
While Shanahan had no experience running an empire as vast as MLSE – or any empire for that matter – he had one calling card when he took over operation of the Toronto Maple Leafs: coalition building. Putting the right people in the right places, as he did in creating the Department of Players Safety with the NHL.
The first pieces he fit with the Leafs were Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter in player personnel – both highly lauded. He expunged Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis – also lauded, although not as timely as some wanted.
Then he landed Mike Babcock, the biggest free agent acquisition for the Leafs in recent memory and a game-changer behind the bench.
LOSER: TERRY PEGULA
WINNER: DETROIT RED WINGS
The Wings reaffirm two important tenets of their franchise in seeing Babcock leave for bluer pastures.
The Wings were great before he arrived. They’ll be great after he’s gone.
LOSER: THE PASSENGERS ON THE LEAFS ROSTER
David Letterman signs off for the last time on Wednesday night, ending a 33-year run in late night in which he reinvented the modern talk show.
It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s not. Everything Conan does. Everything Kimmel does. Most of what Fallon does. Really, name every host outside of Leno (who was the antithesis of everything Dave was) and they were influenced by Letterman.
And really, name anyone over the age of 30 that attempts to be funny, and they probably put on the TV with the volume down at 1 a.m. to watch Stupid Pet Tricks on NBC when they were supposed to be asleep for school or work. I think the vibe I borrowed from Letterman was that "let's just try everything, see what we can get away with and hopefully someone likes it." That's what "Late Night" was, before he started "The Late Show."
Letterman had a great connection with sports and sports figures, usually with the ironic detachment of wooden-acting athletes attempting to read comedy bits off cue cards.
That extending to hockey on a few occasions as well.
1. Dog Hockey
The theory on Mike Babcock, perhaps the most high-profile coaching free agent in NHL history, was that he would leave the Detroit Red Wings to chase the money, seek a new challenge and look to win a Stanley Cup in short order.
Two out of three ain’t bad. Mike Babcock is the next coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, with an NHL record contract for a head coach.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was the first to confirm that Babcock has agreed to an 8-year conract, that might have an out clause after five years. He reports it’s a front-loaded deal – the CBA doesn’t govern those for coaches – with a ton of money up front. He said there was talk about Babcock having a role in player personnel, potentially working with MLSE president Brendan Shanahan in that role.
That means he'll make more money next season than every player on the Toronto roster safe for Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf.
That left the Toronto Maple Leafs – the team without a general manager, the team seeking its first Stanley Cup since 1967.
And the team that landed the biggest fish in the coaching pond.
He chose the challenge of all challenges.
The Mike Babcock Watch (a.k.a. #Babwatch) has consumed the hockey world on Wednesday, and that world shook with this news:
The Buffalo Sabres are out of the Mike Babcock business.
Yes, with Jack Eichel on the way, and an old friend from the Anaheim days in Tim Murray, and all of the money that owner Terry Pegula was dumping on his lawn … Mike Babcock will not be coaching the Sabres, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun.
So if it isn’t about the money, and Babs just wants to win … the Blues?
(UPDATE: Blues might have been out two days ago!)
The Boston Bruins named Don Sweeney, their assistant general manager, as the team’s next general manager, ending weeks of speculation that the Bruins would hire Don Sweeney, their assistant general manager, as the team’s next general manager.
Oh, there were other candidates. Former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee was in the running. So was Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton.
The Boston Globe seemed convinced that the Bruins were going to wait out New York Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton, their former assistant GM, who is credited with building the Rangers into a Cup contender. He reportedly had the backing of the Jacobs family and former GM Harry Sinden, who was advising team president Cam Neely in the GM search.
But for whatever reason – timing, or perhaps the Rangers’ or Gorton’s desire not to have him slip to the Bruins – it’s not Gorton. It’s Sweeney.
Seriously, how anticlimactic? OK, it could still be climactic if Sweeney decides to fire coach Claude Julien, who isn’t listed among the participants in Tuesday’s press conference.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 2 days ago
It took a startling amount of time for Connor McDavid to become a conversation topic during Todd McLellan’s introductory press conference with the Edmonton Oilers. It was like having a holiday party without acknowledging the Lamborghini Veneno wrapped under the tree.
But when he was asked about coaching the Oilers’ next franchise player … well, McLellan was like a kid on Christmas Eve.
“I have had a chance to think that. Quite regularly. Putting my head down on a pillow in Prague, I had plenty of thinking time,” said McLellan, who coached Canada to a gold medal in the IIHF world championships.
Part of that championship team was Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose brain McLellan picked about McDavid. What was it like to be “The Next One” at the top of the draft? How was the transition to the NHL? What did you need to ease it?
McLellan came away understanding that McDavid won’t need to be coddled, but would need support. “Not a protecting environment, but making sure that he’s comfortable in his surroundings,” he said.
In Edmonton, McLellan enjoys a luxury few coaches have (well, save for Willie Desjardins in Vancouver last year): the completely clean slate.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 2 days ago
It's a (I don't like) Mondays edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Brian Hayward joins us to talk about Game 2 of the Ducks vs. Blackhawks series.
• The Conference Final coverage!
• Stanley Cup Playoffs
• Hockey News and Views
Question of the Day: Tell us something we don't already know about Tyler Johnson. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!